Avaaz.org and Ending the War on Drugs

Avaaz.org has a new campaign running.  Though internet petition signing is notoriously questionable insofar as effecting policy change is concerned, I agree with what they’re doing.  I’m copying in their “letter to forward to friends” below.  I don’t want to blow up anyone’s inbox, but posting it here seems like a worthwhile middleground between bothersome and silent.

Their letter:

In days we could finally see the beginning of the end of the ‘war on drugs’. This decades long and hugely expensive policy has completely failed to curb the plague of drug addiction, while costing countless lives, devastating communities, and funneling trillions of dollars into violent organized crime networks.

Drug policy experts agree that the most sensible policy is to regulate, but politicians are afraid to touch the issue. In days, a UN panel of global leaders including billionaire Richard Branson, and five current and former heads of State, will break the taboo and publicly call for a move towards decriminalization and regulation of drugs, delivering a major new report to the UN Secretary General.

This could be a once-in-a-generation tipping-point moment — if enough of us call for an end to this madness. Politicians say they understand that the war on drugs has failed, but claim the public isn’t ready for an alternative. Let’s show them a sane and humane policy is not taboo. Click below to sign the petition — it will be delivered by the Commission to the UN Secretary General and global leaders in New York:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/end_the_war_on_drugs/97.php?cl_tta_sign=79b73d12432d5643ba54bf71991288b7

Current drug policies are failing everyone, everywhere but public debate is stuck in the mud of fear and misinformation. As thousands of journalists, policy experts, and social scientists have documented, the current approach — deploy militaries and police to burn drug farms, hunt down traffickers, and imprison dealers and addicts – has been an expensive mistake. And with massive human cost — from Afghanistan, to Mexico, to the USA the illegal drug trade is destroying countries around the world, while addiction, overdose deaths, and HIV/AIDS infections continue to rise.

Meanwhile, countries with less-harsh enforcement — like Switzerland, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Australia — have not seen the explosion in drug use that proponents of the drug war have darkly predicted. Instead, they have seen significant reductions in drug-related crime, addiction and deaths, and are able to focus squarely on dismantling criminal empires.

Powerful lobbies still stand in the way of change, including military, law enforcement, and prison departments whose budgets are at stake. And politicians fear that voters will throw them out of office if they even mention alternative approaches, as they will appear ‘soft on drugs’, weak on law and order, or pro drug use. But polls show that citizens across the world know the current approach is a catastrophe. And momentum is gathering towards new improved policies, particularly in regions that are ravaged by the drug trade.

If we can create a worldwide outcry now to support the bold calls of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, we can overpower the stale excuses for the status quo. Our voices hold the key to change — Sign the petition and spread the word:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/end_the_war_on_drugs/97.php?cl_tta_sign=79b73d12432d5643ba54bf71991288b7

We have a chance to enter the closing chapter of this brutal ‘war’ that has brought destroyed millions of lives. It is time to join forces and end this disgraceful policy that affects us all. Global public opinion will determine if there is change. Let’s rally urgently to push our hesitating leaders from doubt and fear, over the edge, and into reason.

With hope and determination,

Alice, Laura, Ricken, Maria Paz, Shibayan and the whole Avaaz team

SOURCES:

Reports that show the war on drugs has failed:

http://idpc.net/publications/failure-regime-selected-publications

Reports that show alternative approaches of decriminalisation and regulation are working:

http://idpc.net/publications/alternative-strategies-selected-publications

War on drugs ‘cannot be won’, officers claim

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/5933840/War-on-drugs-cannot-be-won-officers-claim.html

5 Years After: Portugal’s Drug Decriminalization Policy Shows Positive Results

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=portugal-drug-decriminalization

The Global Comission on Drug Policy that will call on the UN to end the war on drugs

http://www.globalcommissionondrugs.org/Documents.aspx

Drug War by the Numbers

http://www.drugpolicy.org/facts/drug-war-numbers

Final Report of the Latin American Comission on Drugs and Democracy

http://www.drogasedemocracia.org/English/Destaques.asp?IdRegistro=8